Τρίτη, 18 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

To-Do List (Last Minute Apocalypse Special) by Konstantine Paradias

From the personal notebook of Jack Schmidt, sole victim of the events of December 21st, 2012:

-Pasta (2 packets)
-Hot peppers (1/2 kilo)
-Dishwashing soap  the green one
-That fucking red wine she likes
-Rice basmati, long
-Mushrooms (not the brown ones, they give me gas) please get the brown ones, baby
-2 liter coke remember your diet, sweetie
-Fucking expensive lettuce it’s Romain. Get two
-12 plastic bags, the big ones
-One hacksaw
-24 cans of condensed milk, for no fucking reason whatsoever you seriously want to go out and shop just for that next time?
-Tomatoes (3 kilos) try to get the really juicy red ones, I love those
-12-litre Drain-O bottle
-Condoms (12-pack) try not to get the latex ones, they give me a rash
-A better fucking girlfriend
-An isolated place by the highway where I can bury her so nobody will notice.

During the 10-minute drive from Jack’s house to the nearest Save-Mart, the rogue planet that ASA had playfully named ‘Big Miss’ and was originally scheduled to pass a light-year away from our Solar System in a hundred years’ time, fell inside a spontaneous rent in the fabric of the space-time continuum and surfaced exactly a thousand kilometers away from Earth.

Jack Schmidt was busy flipping through his radio’s preset car stations, looking for the song that would ‘give him the strength to make it through another day of his miserable life’ (even though there were no indications so far that his life was, or had in fact been, miserable). As he was busy wallowing in his made-up sorrows, Big Miss moved another hundred thousand miles closer to the Moon and was now in the process of ripping it away from Earth’s orbit, by virtue of its massive gravity field.

By the time Jack Schmidt parked his car and was about to walk through the automated Save-Mart doors, the assembled masses of shoppers were already storming outside to look at the great black blot obscuring the heavens. As men, women and children fell on their knees and prayed to their respective gods, Jack Schmidt looked through the grocery department, searching for Romain lettuces, before finally settling for iceberg, thinking that Sophie would never really know (even though he knew she would not be fooled for even a second).

As Jack Schmidt, the world’s most oblivious, egotistical, downright miserable bastard on the face of the Earth at that moment (who was busy moping around in the little cobwebbed kingdom inside his own mind and painting with life with long melancholy-blue strokes), Big Miss had already torn a large piece of the Moon up and was slowly closing in on Earth.

The seas began churning and the earth itself split, spilling its blood on the skin of the world, burning forests down to ash, while the skies themselves blew with such terrible, uncontrollable rage, tearing at the works of man and threatening to reduce them to rubble. It was then, as the end times were tolling their terrible bell that Jack Schmidt realized that something was amiss. He had, up until that point, been engrossed with finding a manager so he could infect him just a tiny bit of his misery on that cold winter day.

But the customers and the cashiers and the greeters weren’t in their respective posts. They were gathered outside to look at the great hungry maw that slowly swallowed the sky, nibbling at the moon, its terrible visage a thing lifted straight from their ancestors’ collective nightmares. Jack Schmidt saw it reflected on one of the aisle mirrors, noticing first the gathered mass of praying and penitent humanity, then the great shape in the sky.

It was at that moment, with Earth facing total and complete extinction in the next few moments, that Jack Schmidt was finally and truly happy.

Gone were the thoughts of his parents’ suffocating methods (which was objectively neither stifling nor overly disciplinary). Gone were his memories of an emotionally painful childhood and his recollections of high-school misery. No longer was he plagued of his made-up lost chances at romance in college and his current thoughts of glory and riches that he was denied in his chosen occupation.

Jack Schmidt thought of everyone perishing along with him in the same instant of disaster and for the first time of his life, he felt truly, utterly happy. Grinning madly, he made his way to the liquor aisle, opened a bottle of the finest, most expensive champagne he could find, ripped a recliner off its exhibit window and sat by the cashier aisles, waiting for the apocalypse.

At that very moment, by sheer cosmic chance or (as it was later theorized by crackpot supporters of noetics) the released misery of Jack Schmidt himself, the Earth moved. It was only a few thousand kilometers out of Big Miss’ way but enough to narrowly avoid being caught up in its gravitational pull and suffering the same fate as its Moon.

On a cosmic scale, this near-impossible event took mere moments but on the human scale of understanding time, it took an entire hour during which NASA technicians wept, Holy Men confessed their crimes to high heaven for the world to hear and war criminals left their bunkers that had hidden them from the world for months and embraced the hired killers that had been hot on their trail for years. As the world was experiencing a deeply profound moment of peace and understanding, Jack Schmidt instead swallowed big mouthfuls of his expensive French champagne and waited and laughed, secretly hoping that the end would be quick, to that he wouldn’t have to suffer.

But as Big Miss swerved away and its gravity let go of the few chunks of the Moon it had not swallowed up into its mass, departing from the Heavens, Jack Schmidt heard the tiny little sound of his dreams being crushed under God’s vengeful heel and he let out a cry of such anguish that had not been uttered by any man in history, never mind one that had been legitimately wronged.

It was at that moment that a chunk of the Moon the rough size of a three-story building began its impossibly fast descent across the atmosphere, pulled against its will into the bosom of Earth. Like a matchstick, struck across a rough surface as long and as large as the world, it lit up and burst into flame, diminishing  bit by bit yet still picking up speed.

By the time Jack Schmidt had ceased screaming and was hard at work having a rightly vengeful fit, the bit of Moon (now severely diminished, but armed with a singular purpose) broke the sound barrier three times over, crashed through the Save-Mart walls and smashed Jack two meters into the linoleum floor, killing him instantly.

What was even more remarkable than this scientifically ludicrous occurrence was that even though this was a disaster of such scale and magnitude that would later cause terrible social and geological upheaval, no-one actually died. Of course, some people got some cuts and there were some bruises, but no-one was crushed or drowned or burned. No-one was even eviscerated by shards of glass, propelled through the air in breackneck speeds, or stabbed in the process of looting. 

During the 24 hours of the 21st of December 2012, the day that the Mayans had foretold as a day of great disaster and the end of human civilization, not a single soul on Earth did leave its mortal coil. 

None but the miser Jack Schmidt.

 Had he perhaps been more prudish in his ways and maybe a touch more light-hearted, he would have perished on the 22nd along with everyone else, when the rest of the Moon collided with Earth.

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